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October 10, 2012

Rice Marks Centennial

Once upon a time, Rice Football was the "only" show in town.

Long before the Astros, Dynamo, Rockets, and Texans, Rice was a power in the Southwest Conference of the 1950's.

Playing in a then brand new stadium that regularly packed in 50,000 plus to watch the nationally ranked Owls. Then the team had little to no competition for a Houstonian's sports entertainment dollar. With a little imagination you can almost smell the hot dogs, the popcorn, a gentleman's cigar, and the natural grass of the playing field of what it was like back then.

It was a Golden Age for the football team. Fans dressed for the occasion, ladies in dresses, men in suits. And the scoreboard more often than not registered Owl victories.

As the team hosts UTSA this weekend at the now 62 year old "Historic" Rice Stadium they'll celebrate the school's Centennial. But much more than celebrating a date on the calendar the players hope to relive an era when dominating football was the norm. An era when Jess Neely patrolled the sidelines, when King Hill almost single-handedly beat Bear Bryant's #1 ranked Texas A&M Aggies 7-6, and when the Owls appeared in the Cotton, Orange, and Sugar Bowls.

The Owls will take the field Saturday wearing "throwback" uniforms. And with some luck, and a lot better execution, they can bring some of that old magic back. Some things may never return to the way they once were. The SWC has long ago dissolved. Rice is the only former team that hasn't aligned itself with a bigger conference. But the history of what once was will never be changed. There will always be a connection to that.

And winning…that never get's old. Winning is timeless. It was as glorious in 1952 as it can be in in 2012.

Let's hope the Owls of today make that connection Saturday, to experience the glory of what Rice Football used to be. They can transcend time with a resounding victory, and if only for a little while - they deserve to be golden too...


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